Teen Employment = Free College

You’re injecting college credit into your homeschool, but what about “the rest of the degree” that comes at full price after high school? I want you to consider all possible options that help your family stay out of debt!

There are two primary ways a job might cover your teen’s tuition costs, but both are different, so you’ll want to understand both.

Tuition Reimbursement vs. Scholarships

Tuition reimbursement generally requires continued employment with the company while you go to school. When you’ve finished a course, the company writes you a check to reimburse you for the tuition you paid. Tuition reimbursement can sometimes pay for a full degree, but often has a service requirement or other obligation in exchange for the educational benefit.

Scholarships are awards given to a student for achievement. Often, these are one-time awards. Scholarship amounts vary by employer, but it’s not unusual to see scholarship awards for $500 – $2,500.  Typically, a scholarship is a one-time award without further obligation.

Which is better? Tuition reimbursement or a scholarship?

First things first, your teen should graduate high school with college credit. The more they have, the more options you have after high school. If your teen has the ability to work during college (studies show that teens working 10 or so hours a week have better GPAs than those who don’t work in college) and comply with the terms of the tuition reimbursement program, than the tuition reimbursement program is more likely to pay the most money over time and more likely to cover the full cost of a full degree. Even if there is a cap to how much your company can pay each year, it’s possible for a resourceful family to calculate those dollars to align with the full term of the degree. A student who graduates high school with 1-2 years of college credit has bought himself the time to pace out the next few years and finish his degree using programs like these.


Your award may be distributed in any number of ways, but if the award is calculated per calendar year (Jan 1- Dec 31) and you're starting in the fall (Aug) be sure you don't miss your chance to get a full year's award in that first semester! Future semesters will be paced (spring, fall, summer) but that first fall semester is a biggie.  

Companies that reimburse tuition or offer scholarships for part time teens:

Employees with McDonald’s for 90 days working 15 hours per week
 are eligible. Eligible employees receive up to $2,500/year with no
 lifetime credit cap.

Kentucky Fried Chicken

For hourly team members and shift supervisors with at least six months of service, KFC offers the REACH Educational Grants of $2,000 and $2,500. Grant recipients can attend any accredited two-year or four-year college or a trade/vocational school.

Chipotle Restaurant

This tuition-reimbursement offer is for available to both full-timers and part-timers after one year on the job. Employees get tuition, books, and fees reimbursed by Chipotle — up to the IRS limit of $5,250 per calendar year.

Pizza Hut 

Through a partnership with Excelsior College, Pizza Hut offers the Life Unboxed EDU program. Excelsior College offers tuition discounts of 45% on undergraduate studies and 15% on graduate studies for Pizza Hut employees.

Better than Reimbursement

These two programs are better than tuition reimbursement because they pay up front. In other words, you’re not coming up with the money first!


How it works: Full or part-time workers become eligible after 90 days. Choose one of the approved colleges and start college. Walmart covers all tuition, books, and fees. The employee’s cost is $1 per day. ($365/year)

How to use this program to the fullest: Their partner colleges accept CLEP, AP, dual enrollment, and other types of credit your teen earned in high school. Some of their partner colleges are also partners with Sophia, Straighterline, or Studycom, making it possible to complete a LOT of college credit in high school and then finish out fully funded by Walmart.

Another cool thing about the Walmart program is that it’s not a “reimbursement” program- they pay the tuition for you, so you won’t have fund and then wait for your reimbursement, it’s immediate.

Learn about this program


How it works: Full or part-time workers become eligible after 90 days. They have partnered with Arizona State University (online). Starbucks pays 100% of the tuition.

How to use this program to the fullest: ASU accepts CLEP, AP, DSST, and dual enrollment, but they also have a fantastic Universal Learner program that is extremely popular in our Homeschooling for College Credit Community. The Universal Learner program allows teens of any age to try college classes ($25) and only pay for the class if you pass *and like your grade ($400) at which time it will be added to your official ASU college transcript. This program is open to anyone of any age with no admissions requirements. By carefully blending the Universal Learner program with alternative college credit earned in high school, you can earn a full bachelor’s degree completely debt free.

Learn about this program

Papa Johns

How it works: Full or part time workers become eligible after 90 days. There are 4 versions of the program which depend on where you work and which college you pick.

How to use this program to the fullest: The best benefit is for those who work for one of their corporate owned locations (as opposed to a franchise owned location). Furthermore, of their two partner colleges Purdue University (Global) and University of Maryland (Global), only Purdue University will waive 100% of tuition. Purdue University Global allows you to use CLEP, AP, DSST, and dual enrollment as well.

Bonus: You can use this program to earn a bachelor’s degree AND a master’s degree!

Learn about this program

A company to watch: Chipotle

On April 8, 2021 Chipotle published a press release with good news for future employees.

“After only 120 days of employment, employees are eligible to pursue degrees from leading nonprofit, accredited universities, including The University of Arizona, Bellevue University, Brandman University, Paul Quinn College, Southern New Hampshire University, Wilmington University, the University of Denver and soon Johnson & Wales University, and Oregon State University.”

  • Agriculture Starting April 13, eligible Chipotle employees will be able to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Sciences or Rangeland Sciences online from Oregon State University, one of the top ranked U.S. colleges for agriculture.
  • Culinary and Hospitality Chipotle will be the first of Guild’s employer partners to offer debt-free culinary education through renowned culinary institution, Johnson & Wales University (JWU), later this year. The brand will work collaboratively with JWU and Guild to bring associate and bachelors’ culinary arts degrees online, as well as an additional Bachelor of Science degree in Food Industry Compliance Management. 
  • Supply Chain Later this year, Chipotle will also offer an expanded selection of Supply Chain programs from Oregon State University and the University of Denver. The company currently offers Supply Chain degrees from Bellevue University, Brandman University, and Southern New Hampshire University. 

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100 Employer / Employee Scholarships

  Parents:  check with Human Resources immediately!  Scholarship application deadlines are sometimes a year in advance. Who qualifies? It depends.  In some cases, a parent’s dependents are eligible to apply, but in other cases, the teen must be an employee.  If you or your teen already work for one of these companies, simply contact your…


Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit

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